Brandix cluster passes 1,000 COVID cases in Sri Lanka; Company denies Indian connection

Colombo, Oct 7 (PTI) An apparel exports factory, which has emerged as the single largest COVID-19 cluster in Sri Lanka, on Wednesday denied that an Indian connection had caused the spike in the number of coronavirus cases among the factory workers.

The number of COVID-19 positive cases detected at the Brandix’s plant in Minuwangoda, Gampaha, rose to 1,022 on Wednesday.

“We can confirm that no parties from India or any other country have had access to the facility during this period. We would also like to clarify that our facility in Minuwangoda does not use any fabric from India nor has it taken in any orders from our facility in India as well,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it operated three chartered flights from Visakhapatnam in India for its Sri Lankan employees to return home. All returnees strictly followed Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 protocols.

The local media quoted a section of the employees of the company as saying that a number of female employees had developed respiratory problems since they started to handle a fabric which came from India.

Sri Lanka has recorded 4,448 COVID-19 cases. Thirteen people have died due to the virus.

Officials say the difficulty in contact tracing of the infected factory workers remains a problem. All employees of the factory irrespective of where they lived currently were asked to gather at 16 locations by Wednesday evening to carry out more tests and investigations, police said.

The spike in the number of cases forced police curfews in parts of Gampaha district in the Western province.